Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fight Idiocy With Mockery

In the halcyon days of 2008, people did a pretty good job of pointing out that a lot of out-there, right-leaning views on both foreign and domestic policy sound good, but when you pause to think about what they're really saying, it's just batshit insane. I'm not talking about making fun of Christine O'Donnell's wacky days in the '90s, or Rand Paul's hijinks, or Carl Paladino's latest wackiness; I'm talking about the "sensible"-sounding Republican candidates who are often anything but. In that spirit, I bring you John Raese, West Virginia GOP Senate candidate, and frequent campaign loser John Raese, is breathlessly warning people about the danger of a "rogue missile aimad at our country", which would give us "33 minutes to figure out what we're going to do". To combat this menace, Raese claims, "we need 1000 laser systems put in the sky and we need it right now."

Let's think about this for a moment.

Who, exactly, is going to fire a "rogue missile" at America? Are we to imagine that Al-Qaeda is going to build an ICBM somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan or Pakistan without us knowing about it? Once you phrase the question this way, it's hard to see any stateless group developing the capacity to threaten the U.S. in the way Raese is talking about. That leaves actual countries, which is to say, Iran, or possibly a destabilized Pakistan. But the calculation for these nations is simple. A nuclear attack on the United States would not result in mutually assured destruction, a la the Soviets in the Cold War, but assured destruction for the opposing nation. There's no way for any middle-population, middle-income country to develop enough firepower to take on America's current nuclear arsenal. And having been the victims of a nuclear attack, the rest of the world isn't going to stand in our way.

Second, as MSNBC points out, getting these thousand 'laser systems' into low earth orbit would be a combination of hideously expensive, technically challenging, and a diplomatic nightmare.

Lastly, this sort of thing doesn't do anything for Raese's constituents, unless West Virginia has suddenly become a nexus for manufacturing 'laser systems'. I suppose they might require a lot of coal-fired electricity, but surely there are better ways to drum up power demand.

It would be nice if MSNBC would more clearly headline the piece, perhaps by saying "Raese wets his pants and makes up crazy shit to justify it", but for now that job will have to fall to bloggers

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